Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Stuff here, stuff there, stuff everywhere . . .

I mentioned in a blog article yesterday that we waste a lot of money on things that have no lasting value.  As source material, I referenced an article at Intellectual Takeout.  I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight some of its findings.

1. There are 300,000 items in the average American home (LA Times).

2. The average size of the American home has nearly tripled in size over the past 50 years (NPR).

3. And still, 1 out of every 10 Americans rent offsite storage—the fastest growing segment of the commercial real estate industry over the past four decades. (New York Times Magazine).

4. While 25% of people with two-car garages don’t have room to park cars inside them and 32% only have room for one vehicle. (U.S. Department of Energy).

5. The United States has upward of 50,000 storage facilities, more than five times the number of Starbucks. Currently, there is 7.3 square feet of self storage space for every man, woman and child in the nation. Thus, it is physically possible that every American could stand—all at the same time—under the total canopy of self storage roofing (SSA).

There's more at the link.

Miss D. and I certainly qualify for #4 above - and that's my fault, not hers.  I tend to accumulate clutter, even though I really do believe most of it is genuinely useful clutter.  I've promised her to get rid of as much of it as possible, as soon as the Texas summer heat passes and it's possible to work in the garage again without taking a sauna at the same time.  It's going to feel like pulling my own teeth . . . but she's right.  It's necessary.

"Lean and mean" isn't necessarily always good, but on the whole, I suspect it's a lot healthier, in every way, than "fat and bloated" - both in terms of our bodies, and in terms of our possessions.



Eric Wilner said...

We've been doing a lot of decluttering the past many months... I'd lived in the same house for thirty years, and my father has lived in his house for sixty years, so there had been much opportunity for accumulation.
While the family is "downsizing" to a vastly larger house (plus basement! And a barn that's meant to become a workshop!), the long-distance move does call for thinning out the Stuff considerably. Even so... I have rather a lot of mostly-work-related Stuff (what with working at home on electronic and mechanical things) and a vast number of books (because books). Hey, at least I got rid of the lathe and mill, intending to buy newer, better ones post-move.
Initially, the oversized three-car garage won't have room for cars, because that's where I'll be able to set up the lab/workshop until such time as the barn and basement are remodeled. After that, we shall see - I suspect that, with summer thunderstorms and all, being able to park at least one car in the attached garage may become a priority.

paladin3001 said...

When I moved in with the Fiancee I was looking at getting a storage unit for the stuff that we didn't have room for. Looked up the base cost for a unit and started calculating costs. Some of the stuff was furniture and a few other items. Figured out that the cost of storage for one year would be more then replacing the stuff brand new.

Ended up getting rid of most of it to a thrift shop. We're currently going on another thinning blitz for a garage sale, and anything not sold goes to thrift shop donation. We live in a cozy home the three of us (me, her, and my son) and aren't really looking to upsize the home for a good while.

Scott M. said...

In the immortal words of George Carlin, "If you didn't have so much stuff, you wouldn't need a house! You could just walk around all the time!"

Steve said...

I don't know about these articles......I recently have started to think that they are demoncrat covert ops against private ownership.
I really don't think the concept of private ownership is possible in a demoncrats brain...they think everything belongs to the collective. And if they can "guilt" you into ownership of "stuff"...then their concept works.


D.J. Schreffler said...

We moved often when I was growing up, and as a growing boy, I got to carry a lot of heavy stuff.

This has led me to a useful heuristic to buying useful things: Am I, personally, willing to pack this thing up, move it to a new home, and unpack it to put it in its new, rightful place?

If not, generally won't get it.

Eric Wilner said...

I think Steve may be onto something, here.
The Oligarchy can't tolerate a new generation of upstarts; newly-minted oligarchs feel the need to pull the ladder up behind themselves, lest the bourgeoisie/kulaks follow. Wherefore we now see the press for new sumptuary laws meant to bar the commoners from owning land, transportation, weapons, means of production, and so on.
Hm. And books on paper, too. And movies, etc., on physical media. You can just read/watch/listen on line, and be sure of getting the latest edition, with all outdated content edited out.

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Peter;

Steve and Eric have touched on to something, there is a huge sociatal pressure on "Owning" stuff. I understand to a point that you need to declutter, up to a point. But they want you to get rid of all the "old stuff" things that were made better back then? Stuff that reminds us what we had as a nation at one time? I don't know....I do know that there is a big indoctrination push going on with cars. A lot of teenagers today don't want to own a car, bad for the planet ya see. I think it is more than that.

Eric Wilner said...

Also from the kids-these-days files:
I keep hearing that twentysomethings are spending their money on experiences, rather than things. So it totally makes sense, for example, for a youngster with a highish-paying city job and ruinous city rent to take off every so often on an expensive overseas vacation.
Well, things go obsolete so fast these days, so it's just common sense to spend all available money on experiences. It's not like you could invest for the future; we're assured that there is no future, and besides it's morally wrong for individuals and private businesses to make long-range plans.
(I actually heard someone make that last assertion at a Sierra Club gathering, several years ago. All planning must be done by the Government! Only Big Brother is qualified to think ahead!)

Tal Hartsfeld said...

What do these people do if they experience long-term unemployment and/or unexpected expenses and their finances end up depleted?
...and, as such, can no longer afford to rent space in any storage unit?
Do they simply sell all their bourgeois items for food, clothing, and laundry money?

Rob said...

When I moved from a house to an RV I went face to face with the fact that I had "too much stuff". There were some things that I just could not get rid of... I tried.
I rented a small storage locker for my "too much stuff".

tweell said...

I have a one car garage. It had a car in it twice, to the best of my knowledge, but that hasn't happened in over 30 years.

Beans said...

Moving, from a 3 bedroom house with 2 car garage and a shed and covered back porch after living there for 30 years, into a 1 bedroom apartment was quite challenging.

Wifely unit did not want to see the rather severe "Aw, screw it, must cut down, must cut down more" winnowing that I did. Gone were things collected by two packrats of great standing (almost hoarder class.) Since apartment was an apartment, no lawn tools (yay) or most anything else came.

Still ended up with a storage unit for tools and some outdoorsy stuff that I really need to go through, and a bedroom full of boxes that I didn't want to pack but had to to stay married.

Just think, our ancestors from before the late '60s could pack all their clothes into one or two suitcases. Now most people have a closet each per person, with maybe another closet for the female and one for rarely used cloths.

(I can do the 2 suitcase thingy, but I am a cheap bastige about buying clothes for myself. Unless I include the re-enactment cloths... Um... yeah...)

SiGraybeard said...

I would add to #4 that in the parts of the country that don't have basements (Florida, for one), the garage takes the place of the northern basement. That might account for some of that 25 or 32%.

I don't know how square footage compares, but a two car garage is on the order of 440 sq.ft. Our two car garage hasn't had cars in it since the early 80s, when we started adding shop tools and then a (long since gone) aluminum boat.

tiredWeasel said...

300.000 items? C'mon on guys - be honest: That's for ammunition alone :D

But how do they count? What about the handyman with literally hundred different tools? Do those count the same as the beanie babies of a man child?

Eric Wilner said...

Beans: "Since apartment was an apartment, no lawn tools (yay)"
... We won't be taking much in the way of yard equipment, but will have to acquire a few incidentals as part of moving in. Lawnmower, rototiller, concrete mixer, tractor, and so on. (But no haybaler. Not yet, anyway.)
My actual clothes (excluding hats and boots) might fit in a couple of very large suitcases. It's the other stuff that takes up the proverbial "forty-two boxes, all carefully packed." Er. If they're very large boxes....
I still need to work out just how many mini shipping containers we're gonna need. It helps that we won't be taking much, if any, of the old furniture. (The new furniture Shall Be Cat Resistant.)

The Neon Madman said...

I lived for a lot of years (in my younger days) without a garage. My house now has an attached 2 car garage, and it is an ironclad rule that the cars WILL be in the garage. Scraping ice and brushing snow at 5:00 am in a Wisconsin winter is no fun.

That's one of my pet peeves-a house where $75k worth of cars sits out in the weather while the garage is packed wall-to-wall with junk. Just can't understand it.

Another one is the $300k plus house with trees growing in the rain gutters, but that is for another time .......

Steve said...

Thank you folks for taking the time to read my scribbles. I usually have a different "bent" on today's society......I have been training myself to not accept the usual explanation for things. I try to see the obverse side of things.
So getting a couple of folks to think differently about a topic; is encouraging.
Yes, I wholeheartedly agree WE HAVE TOO MUCH JUNK IN OUR LIVES. BUT, some of that junk is a, tool that my dad used on our farm, or a sign that my grandfather put up on his farm. Or doilies that my mom put on my nightstand. So even though to some folks, it's junk; to me it's a reminder of who brought me into this world.
And that's why I think this decluttering (even though it could be meant well) is actually a subliminal form of inculcating a "group think" into society. Eliminate the individual and insert the "for the good of the group" thinking.
Did I go too far? Did I start to sound like I see black helicopters in the sky?
Sorry. Just some thoughts that have been percolating in this old mans brain.


P. Lester said...

One of my friends lost everything in a house fire. He later told me that at first he was devastated but not long after that experienced a real sense of being free for the first time in years. I am as big a pack rat as anyone and worse than many so I know how stuff can weigh you down sometimes. I have been thinning it out as I am getting to an age where if I don't someone else will get stuck with the job one day.

FredLewers said...

Me too... And then moved all that crap into an enclosed trailer. And then downsized some more. And then let my wife sweet talk me into renting an A frame overlooking the lake... Now we're downsizing again!
Keep the photo albums and negatives. And the essential tools and survival gear and DITCH EVERYTHING ELSE!!!

FredLewers said...

If it's a precious memory item, pass it on to your descendants while you can choose who gets it. If it ain't worth cluttering up your kids lives... Take a picture of it and donate it to goodwill

Anonymous said...

SiG makes an excellent point - in many parts of the country garages must perform the job designated for basements elsewhere.

And, I won't dispute too much of the "clutter argument" but before it's labeled "clutter" I'd like to know exactly what those items are. You, Peter, have preached preparedness for as long as you've been blogging; are several dozen cases of freeze-dried food, bulk quantities of rice, beans, soap, etc., bottled water, outdoor gear and "certain self-defense tools and their related supplies" considered to be in the "clutter" category? They do consume storage space, after all.

It is quite possible to organize one's possessions in such a manner that a large volume becomes quite orderly and constitutes "assets" rather than "clutter." (Such organization is, BTW, a valuable component of preparedness; "two is one, one is none, and if it's really important why don't you have three" is the mantra, but if you can't find it right when you need it having a dozen isn't a plus.)

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Speaking as Peter's wife, here, the difference between "clutter" and "Emergency preparedness" is a simple, but not easy line: In an emergency, do we both know
1.) that it exists,
2.) Where it is,
3.) that we can get to it, and
4.) find it in usable condition?

If I have no clue what the mounds of stuff piled high on shelves that can't be gotten to because the aisle inbetween has been filled in with "I'll just put that here until..." well over a year ago, it's rather useless, innit?

Somewhere in that garage is a box with 3 bottles of toilet bowl cleaner. I last saw it on the bottom of a pile eight months ago, when I dug around for four hours before finding it on the bottom of a pile. It's been moved. Since then, I just go to the store and buy a new bottle, because I'm not spending another four hours of my life digging in the garage when I can just go to the store and back in 20 minutes. So that case of toilet bowl cleaner, where it's "cheaper to buy in bulk?" Wasted money, time, and demoted to "Worthless junk", because I can neither find it, nor use it, even when it's not an emergency.

And that extends to well over half the things in the garage... if they're not useful in present condition, they're currently clutter and indistinguishable from "Your worthless junk that leaves us parking both cars out in the hailstorms, honey."